5 Masterpieces of Nature in Macedonia

January 6, 2015 Updated: January 8, 2015

The landscapes here in Macedonia, which are mostly mountainous, are ornamented with breathtaking mountain rivers, waterfalls hidden deep in the forests, and clear and cold mountain lakes. Life, in all its forms, thrives in a place like this, from rare species to marvelous green landscapes. We’re proud and excited to present to you the five masterpieces of nature in Macedonia.  

If you were wondering where to start your Macedonian adventure, the right answer would probably be Ohrid. No other place in the country can offer you so much and yet be so diverse. These waters hide the history of many species, relict creatures from one of the oldest lakes in Europe. Ohrid Lake lies at an altitude of 693 meters, it covers picturesque area of about 350 sq. km and is known for its crystal clear water, which is allows for visibility down to an astonishing 22 meters. 

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia via Shutterstock*
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia via Shutterstock*

Ohrid Lake deserves the epithet “Macedonian Sweetwater Sea”, not only because of its pleasant blue colour, which is more intense than the blue of the sky, but also because of its surface area and because it attracts thousands of tourists each summer. Its singular natural conditions have made the survival of life forms from the Tertiary period possible, owing to which Ohrid Lake has often been called a museum of living fossils. In 1979 and 1980, the surrounding beauties and the town of Ohrid together with the lake were declared as a Cultural and Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the only one in Macedonia.

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It is one of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe which kept an amazing variety of unique flora and fauna within it. It is an excellent tour location and it attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. On its northern shore, the ancient city of Ohrid rises above the lake as a  colossal piece of scenery, located on a double hill with highest point at Samuel’s Fortress. The famous Ohrid pearls are made from the scales of the endemic Ohrid Lake Plasica fish which makes them unique in the world. Ohrid pearl is without a doubt the best souvenir from Ohrid, as well as the most appropriate gift for a lady.

Ohrid is also a host of two additional natural processes one of which is the source of the river Crn Drim which is located near the Monastery of St. Naum and exits the lake at the city of Struga. The second is a lot more interesting and has to do with the geographical position of Ohrid. Namely, Ohrid is at an altitude of 693 meters and is bordered with the mountain and National Park Galicica on its eastern shores and on the other side of Galicica is Lake Prespa which is at an altitude 853 meters. The two lakes are connected by an underground river flowing from Prespa to Ohrid, an amazing feat of nature.

Ohrid view from Galicica (Photo by: By Inge)
Ohrid view from Galicica (Photo by: By Inge)

You can continue your exploring tour by visiting Pelister Mountain which is characterized by lush, well-watered forests and unique geological formations. The core of the mountain is made of granite some 465 million years old. The oldest national park in Macedonia has been named after the mountain peak Pelister, it includes the top of Pelister (2,601m) and extends to the foot of Baba Mountain. Baba Mountain is probably the most visited mountain in Macedonia by the tourists and the mountain climbers, due to the natural beauties of the mountain, easy access, good marked trails and numerous places to stay.

Baba Mountain overlooks the city of Bitola and it’s the third highest mountain in Macedonia. It has more than 20 peaks over 2,000 meters above sea level separated by deep valleys and its highest peak is Pelister (2,601m). Pelister Mountain is best known for indigenous species of five-needle pine – Molika, that grows only on a few parts of the Balkan Peninsula. The beauty of the landscape is enhanced by the diversified wildlife, the endemic Pelister trout and pelagonic stream trout which are two species that particularly strike out from the rest of the species. Baba Mountain is beautiful in every season, but usually the period from May to September is the best to enjoy climbing, hiking and mountain biking. 

At the top of the mountain lies our third masterpiece of nature, the two glacial lakes, Big and Small Lake also known as the eyes of Pelister, because of the image that appears when the sun is reflected to them. High in the mountain slopes there are many glacial lakes as a further ornament of the Macedonian mountain view, but these two are special. A rare beauty remembered by a touching romantic legend Gorski Oci also known as Pelister (mountain’s) Eyes. The Big Lake is at an altitude of 2,218 meters, it’s 233 meters long and 162 meters wide. Its biggest depth is 14,5 meters, The altitude of The Small Lake is 2,180 meters, it’s 79 meters long and 162 meters wide (same as the Big Lake). But, the depth is smaller and it’s 2,6 meters.

Big Lake (photo by: National Park of Pelister)
Big Lake (photo by: National Park of Pelister)

There is a legend about their formation, it’s said that the lakes are formed from the tears of the two sisters who were in love with the same, beautiful boy named Pelister. Their mother didn’t allow neither of them to marry him, so in a moment of anger, she sent both of them to the mountain and cursed them to be close, but not to be able to see each other. Wandering through the forest, one of the sisters came to the place where today is the Big Lake and the other sister to the place where the Small Lake is. Both of them, heart-broken began to cry. They were crying so much that, the two beautiful lakes formed from their tears. You can’t tell which of them is more beautiful and more picturesque – is it the Big Lake, in which the snowy mountain chain of Baba is reflected, or the Small Lake, in which the thirsty wild horses drink cold water clean as a tear-drop. Thus, because of their rarity and big altitude, these two lakes were one of the options with whom Macedonia was presented at the competition about the election of new seven wonders of the world.

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Copyright © 2015 by My Destination. This article was written by Vilma Ristova and Marko Aleksov and originally published at My Destination Macedonia

*Image of lake Ohrid, Macedonia via Shutterstock